Alice Powell wins W Series season opener to continue fairytale comeback

Alice Powell won the opening race in the second season of the all-female W Series at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. The British driver put in a dominant performance from pole to flag in the first race the championship has staged on the Formula One bill as a support event to the Styrian Grand Prix.

Britain’s Sarah Moore was in second place with Lichtenstein’s Fabienne Wohlwend taking the final podium spot. After an enormously successful inaugural season in 2019 the W Series was cancelled last year because of the pandemic and there was clearly great pleasure from all 18 drivers at being back behind the wheel this weekend in Austria.

A woman has not raced in F1 since Lella Lombardi 43 years ago and the championship was created to promote women in motor sports, with the intent of helping return a female driver to F1.

The win, in which she dominated from the front in a race of incident and overtakes, is a huge result for Powell, who finished the 2019 season with a win at Brands Hatch and was third in the championship.

The W Series has already fulfilled its purpose in Powell’s case. She won the Formula Renault series in 2010, then In 2012 she became the first woman to score points in the GP3 series and in 2014 she won the Asian Formula Renault series but a lack of funding saw her career stall and by 2019 she had all but given up hope of continuing. She was working with her father doing bathroom renovations when the W Series offered a second chance.

After her success in the inaugural season, other drives were offered and in Austria she once more proved it was not a lack of talent holding her back.

Britain’s Jamie Chadwick, who is defending the title she won in the championship’s inaugural season in 2019, was in seventh place. She clashed with Jessica Hawkins on lap two, dropping her to 16th, and did well to come back through the field.

The W Series will run eight races this season, all on the F1 bill, with round two next week at the Austrian GP.

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